Two step directions for toddlers

30 Fun 2 Step Directions for Preschoolers

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“Put your slippers on and grab a spoon for your cereal.” Easy to do, right? 

For adults and older kids, following directions that have two steps can be quite an effortless task. For toddlers and young preschoolers, following multiple directions is a skill that takes time and maturity.

You can practise this skill in a fun way by using these 2 step directions for preschoolers.

What are Two Step Instructions?

Following directions that include two tasks is an important listening skill for children to learn. This helps them play games, follow instructions and procedures in the classroom and fit in socially with friends. 

Being able to follow two-step instructions involves developing different types of skills. 

Working memory is about holding onto information in order to use it. We want to be sure that kids can follow one-step directions effectively before moving ahead to giving them two steps to follow.  

Auditory processing skills are also very important for enabling kids to follow directions they hear. 

For example, auditory memory refers to when kids remember what they have heard, to use that information later. 

Auditory closure helps them “fill in the blanks” when they have missed hearing the complete direction and auditory figure-ground aids kids in tuning out background noise to hear instructions. [source] 

Speech therapy addresses not only how well children speak in words (expressive language) but also how well they understand what they hear (receptive language). 

The receptive aspects of speech therapy are connected to auditory processing, and getting lots of practice in following directions is helpful to build those skills. 

Verbal reasoning and vocabulary skills are also essential for children to comprehend your instructions. They must understand the words you are saying to be successful. 

When Should a Child Follow 2 Step Directions? 

At what age should a child start listening to and following one-to-two step directions? 

At 24 months of age, many children can follow two or even three-step directions, especially those that are related, such as picking up two specific toys to put away on a shelf. 

Although they can do this, research shows they choose to follow through only about half the time. 

At around age three, most kids effectively follow two-step directions. 

So then, when should a child follow 3 step directions? 

Four-year-old children are usually able to follow through on three-step instructions, especially those that are given in a logical order. 


How do I Teach My Child to Follow Multi-Step Directions?

It’s important to talk to your children often, giving voice to your own thought process as you move through your day. Verbalize what you observe about your child’s movements throughout the day, as well. 

Read to your children, pointing to illustrations, and urging them to name objects. 

How do you teach following instructions? 

Listening skills in early childhood are very important and must be practised. Here are some tips:

  • When giving your child instructions, state them clearly, in simple language, and give your child enough time to respond. 
  • Look at them when giving directions, and make sure they are looking at you.
  • Restate or clarify if your child has not followed through on the instructions given. 
  • Model the correct actions, if necessary. 
  • Praise your child when they follow through on a single instruction and they will eventually build the ability to follow multiple part instructions. 
  • Don’t start giving 3 step directions until your child has mastered 2 instructions.

A list of 2 Step Directions for Preschoolers 

Some of the following examples include 2 step directions with prepositions or spatial concepts, such as “on,” “under”, and “over. ” 

These types of words address the relationships between objects or between objects and individuals and can help teach positional language.

Make a game out of requesting that your children complete two actions. You can also make it fun by using these directions in familiar games that require giving directions, such as “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader.” 

You could also play “Broken Telephone,” to see if the last person who hears the directions can follow through successfully.

Another fun game is Listen and Draw. Give multiple directions that your child must follow to draw the picture you describe. 


Here is a list of instructions suitable for preschoolers:

1.   Sit down on the floor and close your eyes.

2.   Touch your head and turn in a circle.

3.   Stand up and pretend to be frozen.

4.   Bounce the ball and say your name.

5.   Do a jumping jack and then sit on the chair.

6.   Hop on one foot and smile.

7.   Place the teddy bear under the table and sit on the chair.

8.   Walk along the fence and sit on the swing.

9.   Reach your hands over your head and clap your hands.

10.   Stand next to Grandma/Grandpa and hold onto their hand.

11.   Draw a yellow sun above the green grass.

12.   Draw blue water next to a brown beach.

13.   Touch your toes and then spin around in a circle.

14.   Wash your face with this cloth and comb your hair.

15.   Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and place the other slice on top.

16.   Pull your blanket up on the bed and arrange your stuffed animals.

17.   Take a book out of your bag and set it on the table.

18.   Lie down next to Mom/Dad and close your eyes.

19.   Take off your mittens and hang them up to dry.

20.   Point to your eyes and say your name.

21.   Point to your lips and smack them together.

22.   Turn off the TV and place the remote on the coffee table.

23.   Stomp your feet and say, “I’m a dinosaur!”

24.   Choose a book from your shelf and read it to your doll.

25.   Cover your eyes and say, “Boo!”

26.   Turn around in a circle and then sit down on the grass.

27.   Wave goodbye to me and walk to the door.

28.   Climb up the steps and then walk back down.

29.   Fetch your school bag and put your lunch box inside it.

30.   Wash your hands for dinner and come back to sit on a chair at the table.

These are just a jumping-off place to start your mind working! Involve your children and challenge them to make up their own directions and ask you to follow them!

Check out these other listening activities for kids to get even more practice! 

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Unrelated 2 Step Directions - Speech Therapy Activities — Toddler Talk

Receptive Language Lessons

Written By Stephanie Keffer

Toddlers typically begin to follow directions with two unrelated steps just before their third birthday.

These directions include 2 different actions that are completely separate from one another. You can think of these directions as following this template: First do action 1 with item 1, Then go do action 2 with item 2. For example, “Push in your chair and go to the sink,” or “Take off your shoes and hang up your coat.”

These types of directions are more complex and therefore more challenging than two-step directions with a single item.

As you practice, keep in mind that your toddler’s success in following directions will vary based on how tired they are, their general mood, and their current level of attention. Day-to-day fluctuations are expected and completely normal. 

Speech therapy tips for practicing with 2 step unrelated directions

Tip 1 - Create two-step unrelated directions

In this lesson, we’ll focus on following directions that:

  • Have two or more steps (two different actions with two different items)

  • Have not been practiced before and are not part of a daily routine

  • Are __NOT__ related to an activity your child is doing when you give the direction.

For example, if your child is coloring on the floor, you could tell them, *“Sit at the table and open the Play-Doh.”* If they’re playing with a babydoll, you could say, “Oh no, your shark looks hungry and sleepy! *Feed the shark* and *put him to sleep*.” 

Tip 2 - Offer the minimum amount of help your child needs

As you practice following directions with your child, it’s best to practice at a level where your child can successfully complete a direction with minimal help. Follow this step-by-step breakdown to help wean your child off of needing your assistance to complete directions. If your child completes the direction at any point, you do not need to continue with the remaining attempts. Praise your child for completing the two-step direction correctly. (“Yay, you got the cow and gave him a cookie!”).

Here are the steps:

  1. Say your child is playing with a toy turtle. Start by giving the direction, “Get the cow and give him a cookie. ” Don’t offer any visual clues about what you want them to do, like motioning with your eyes or hands.

  2. If your child is unable to complete the direction on their own, repeat the direction and offer one piece of help, such as pointing to what you want your child to do. Say, “Get the cow and give him a cookie,” point to their cow, and then point to the cookie.

  3. For your third attempt, repeat the direction again, but break it into two parts. First, say “Get the cow.” Once they grab the cow, then say “Give the cow a cookie.”

  4. Finally, you can complete the direction together. Repeat the direction, and then actually help your child through the actions. Say “Get the cow and give him a cookie” as you guide your child to get the cow and feed it a cookie.

You’ll know your child has mastered this skill once they can consistently follow your directions in at least four out of five tries. 

Tip 3 - Expand your child’s vocabulary to help them follow directions

Following directions is a perfect opportunity to teach your child the meaning of new words. If you discover during practice that your child does not understand the meaning of a particular word, incorporate that word into your daily activities. For example, if you discover that your child doesn’t know what “scrub” means, talk about SCRUBBING your hands in the sink while you wash, and have them help you SCRUB pots and pans after dinner. As always, practice learning just a few words at a time to prevent you AND your child from feeling overwhelmed. 

And I will be the first to admit that thinking of these directions on the fly when you’re playing isn’t easy! We created 3 different activities with items and toys most people have. For each activity we’ve listed out directions you can practice with for this lesson!

Download our PDF activities guide for practicing with 2 step directions - speech therapy at home practice ↓

Practicing with 2 step directions - speech therapy at home activity

Washing Hands Before Snack


Gather the items you need for your snack so that your child sees that it is almost snack time.

What to do:

In this activity, you will be helping your child understand 2-step directions where the parts are unrelated. The second part of the direction is “wash your hands” and the first part is something else in your home.

You will practice this skill before snack time, if your child likes snacks. If they don’t, pick another daily activity that your child looks forward to. You will tell them something simple to do, and then to go wash their hands. You will say, “it is almost time for snack! But first, put your shoes in your room and wash your hands.” Or “throw the wrapper in the trash and then wash your hands”, “put the cars in the box and then wash your hands.” The first part of your direction should be something your child already does, but maybe they don’t always do it routinely before washing. 

If they follow the direction correctly, celebrate that your child did it correctly by repeating what they did (“Yay, you put your shoes away and washed your hands!”) If your child does not do it, repeat the direction again.  

If they do not follow the direction the second time, break up the direction into two parts. Say, “put your shoes away” and wait for your child to put their shoes away. Then say, “go wash your hands.” Then celebrate by repeating what they did (“Yay, you put your shoes away and washed your hands!”)

What to say:

Here are examples of 2 step directions you may use:

  • “Throw the wrapper away and go wash your hands.” 

  • “Put the book away and go wash your hands.” 

  • “Give me my phone and go wash your hands.” 

  • “Put the banana on the table and go wash your hands.” 

Download our PDF activities guide for practicing with 2 step directions - speech therapy at home practice ↓
© 2020-2022. Stephanie Keffer, MS CCC-SLP. All Rights Reserved.


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Stephanie Keffer

Presentation for a preschool child based on the results of an examination by a teacher-psychologist at the PMPK | Material (younger group):

Municipal state-owned preschool educational institution - kindergarten No. 1 "Smile" of a general developmental type

with priority activities for the physical development of children

closed administrative-territorial formation

Solnechny settlement of the Krasnoyarsk Territory

9002 preschool child according to the results of

examinations by a teacher-psychologist at PMPK

Surname, name of the child: N. V. Age: 3 years

Date of birth:

Difficulties in development: a child with visual impairments.

Socio-emotional development

Quality of contact: enters formally, if necessary.

Contact features: no features.

Efficiency and contact durability: works in terms of the set value.

Interest in examination (manifestations and persistence): persistent until the end of the work. nine0003

Attitude towards task performance: adequate.

Behavior during examination: adequate.

Emotional reactions: adequate.

Communicative function of speech: generally sufficient.

Motivation for success (obtaining approval): clearly expressed.

General characteristics of social and emotional development: normative.

Cognitive development and dynamic characteristics of cognitive


Successful performance of age-valid diagnostic tests: performs selectively.

Understanding instructions and purpose of the task: understands all instructions at once and correctly;

Retention of the instruction until the end of the task (characterizes both the awareness

of execution and the possibility of regulation): keeps the instruction and the started mode of activity until the end of the task.

Orientation in the task: quite complete.

Ability to solve mental problems in an effective way: available. nine0003

The ability to establish connections and relationships on visually presented material: generally sufficient.

Cognitive (search) activity: purposeful tests.

Cognitive functions of speech (generalizing, verbal inference,

verbal formulation of the method of action, verbal explanation of the decision,

verbal accompaniment of the decision process): formed by age.

Characteristics of the dynamic component of thinking: no significant pathological features. nine0003

Tempo: no particularities.


Type of assistance in performing diagnostic procedures: practically no need.

Aid effectiveness: uneven across countries.

Formation of children's productive activities (drawing, design): does not always cope with the task due to vision problems.

General characteristics of cognitive development: close to normal.

Characteristics of the regulation of cognitive activity

Planning and focusing activities: minor shortcomings.

Comprehension (retention) of a complex instruction: predominantly two-step instruction is available.

Retention of the instruction until the end of the task (characterizes both the awareness

of execution and the possibility of regulation): keeps the instruction and the started mode of activity until the end of the task.

Performance monitoring: corrects typing errors.

General characteristics of regulation: close to normal. nine0003

The girl distinguishes between basic and tint colors poorly (because of poor eyesight). Knows geometric shapes. Attention is stable, the duration of concentration and switching is satisfactory. The level of visual and objective perception is developed enough. The level of short-term and long-term memory corresponds to the age norm. Thinking: visually correlates with the prompt of an adult, the level of the generalization operation is above average (does not always correctly name a generic concept or give a descriptive description of essential features). He correctly comprehends the content of individual pictures, understands and conveys the main idea that unites them, does not experience difficulties in coherent presentation of the story. nine0003

Psychological conclusion: the level of mental development is within the age norm.

Date of examination: __________________

Teacher-psychologist at MKDOU No. 1 “Smile”: _______________/Baranova K.V./

Performing simple speech instructions (give, take, get up, sit down, pick up, etc.)

Expected result:

Performing simple speech instructions (give, take, stand up, sit down, pick up, etc.)


The ability to follow the simple instructions of a specialist is a qualitatively new stage in the formation of basic learning activities. It is assumed that this is extremely important for subsequent learning.

It is important to choose the right instructions for teaching. At the initial stage, one should choose those movements and actions that the child can and strives to perform in natural conditions. The main task at first is to teach the child to pay attention to the words of an adult, to help him gain the experience of "obedience" - when an adult speaks and a child does. nine0003

Training takes place as follows:

1) The specialist gives his student a simple verbal instruction, addressing him by name: "Sasha, sit down (pick it up, take it, etc.)". Instructions are given loud and clear.

2) If the student does not follow the instruction for 3-5 seconds, the specialist helps him: confidently (but not painfully) taking the child by the shoulders, sits him on a chair, or takes (raises) the object with his hand. At the same time, the teacher emotionally voices the result (“Excellent, you sat down!”, “Wow, you took the cube!”, etc.). For the first time, along with such praise, the child may receive a more significant reward for him (for example, a piece of biscuit or a top), even if he followed the instruction with help. nine0003

3) When repeating the instruction the next time, if the child does not respond, it is again necessary to help with the performance, denoting the result verbally, but not encouraging (“Raise”)

4) Gradually, help is weakened or not presented immediately, the child is given the opportunity to perform instructions on their own and the slightest approach to the goal is reinforced. For example, a specialist asks a child to give an object ("Sasha, give me"), waits 1 - 2 seconds, then pushes his hand towards the pencil. If the child does not take the object himself, the specialist helps the child to quickly complete the action and encourages performance. In the future, encouragement is provided only if the child performs the action himself. nine0003

5) When learning to follow simple instructions, it is necessary (especially at the initial stage) to clearly organize the learning situation. When pronouncing the instruction, the specialist should be next to the child, turning him to face him; the chair on which he is asked to sit should be placed behind him; the object that is asked to be taken must lie in front of the child. Thus, the specialist makes the situation as clear as possible for the child, and only after he begins to fulfill the simplest requests, you can begin to complicate the learning conditions (increase the distance between yourself and the child at the time of the request, move the chair away from him, place objects at a distance etc.

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